BASEBALL HELD HOSTAGE -- DAY 162: ROBBING PETER TO PLAY BALL
Orioles Owner Peter Angelos met with AL counsel William
Schweitzer yesterday "in the clearest signal yet" owners are
"pressuring" Angelos to field a replacement team. Schweitzer
also hand delivered a letter from AL President Gene Budig that
reminded Angelos of baseball's constitutional powers as well as
the steps MLB & the AL could take if the club did not comply with
the league's wishes. Those powers include fines of up to
$250,000 for every game missed or seizure of the team by the
league (Mark Hyman, Baltimore SUN, 1/20). Angelos stood firm on
his view that replacement players would hurt his team's fan base.
He released partial results of a poll he commissioned. According
to Angelos, 94% of the fans surveyed supported his position, and
only 17% would support the use of replacements; 82% would rather
see the Orioles forfeit replacement games than use replacements
(Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST, 1/20).
SOLUTIONS? One club official noted that owners have
considered a "wider range of options should the Orioles refuse to
field a team." One idea discussed would have different baseball
officials choose a "commissioner's team" that would play their
home games in FL or another site (Mark Hyman, Baltimore SUN,
1/20). In Washington, Mark Maske notes that other "baseball
people" seem to believe, that because of the problems the Blue
Jays might have in fielding a team, the league may not litigate
with Angelos and instead play with 12 teams (WASHINGTON POST,
AND IN WASHINGTON: Labor Secretary Robert Reich, saying he
was expressing the wishes of President Clinton, urged owners to
resume joint negotiations. Reich sat in on the meeting between a
contingent of owners and Special Mediator William Usery (Mult.,
MARKETING THE GAME: In this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL,
John Helyar writes on the different marketing efforts of clubs.
"Plenty of fans and companies will remain loyal to baseball
because they are loath to lose a good seat or a good sign
placement." But Helyar notes that the Blue Jays' radio network
advertising -- normally 80% sold by now -- is currently "stuck at
20%." The Dodgers, in the first week of the season alone, will
"give away everything from European trips to cars to baseball
cards: they will let kids in the upper deck for free and trot
out bands and cartoon characters galore" (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
TEAM NOTES: The Blue Jays announced they will not require
Manager Cito Gaston or his staff to coach a replacement team.
Blue Jays GM Gord Ash: "We're going to have them report right to
minor league camp, work with our minor league prospects and we'll
use a replacement staff to work with the replacement players"
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/19)....The A's will not hold a
replacement tryout camp until next month (OAKLAND TRIBUNE,
1/19)....The White Sox' new ad campaign is called "Dear Sox."
They are urging fans to write the club and share their feelings
about baseball in general. From those letters, Sox fans will be
selected throughout the year to be featured in ads (Terry Armour,
CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/20)....In Atlanta, I.J. Rosenberg offers his
scouting report of the Braves tryout camp that was held yesterday
in Houston: "None of the 87 candidates on hand was judged capable
of impersonating a major leaguer" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
1/20)....Phil Niekro announced he would not cross the line as a
replacement player (Mult., 1/20).